Singapore startup to apply for digital banking license

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said on Friday it will grant as many as two digital full-bank licenses and up to three digital wholesale bank licenses.  (AFP pic)

SINGAPORE: Singapore cross-border payments startup Instarem is seeking partners in the lending business as it prepares to apply for a digital banking license in the city-state.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said on Friday it will grant as many as two digital full-bank licenses and up to three digital wholesale bank licenses.

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, Grab and Razer have expressed an interest since the MAS announcement, but Instarem is the first company to say it will apply for a license.

Ant Financial said it is “delighted” with Singapore’s plan, which it said will foster the development of the financial technology industry, without elaborating on its plans.

Founded in 2014, Instarem is regulated in the US, the European Union, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Australia and Malaysia, and processes billions of dollars a year for banks, payments institutions and retail users across the world.

The startup is backed by investors including Vertex Ventures, Fullerton Financial Holdings, Rocket Internet and MDI Ventures.

“Instarem already provides services similar to transaction banking in a bank so this would be a natural extension for us,” chief executive officer Prajit Nanu said. “One key aspect where we have limited ability is lending and we will be looking to partner to create the lending experience in the same technology stack.”